Are you in the third trimester and wondering what you can do to prepare your body for labor? Good news! Here is a list of 5 exercises you can perform daily to help open up your hip and pelvic floor musculature to prepare for labor and delivery.
The pelvic floor musculature needs to RELAX in order to allow the uterus to contract and push out your baby if you are delivering vaginally. Therefore, if your pelvic floor musculature is too tight then you will have a difficult time being able to relax this musculature.
Some of the best movements to open up your pelvic floor include deep squats and lunges, and often these will be positions you find comfortable to perform during labor!
Q: Can I perform these before the third trimester?
A: Yes! These are safe to perform at any point of your pregnancy given you are cleared to exercise. However, if you do not start performing them until your third trimester then you are NOT behind as you will have plenty of time to gain mobility.
Q: How many reps/sets should I perform?
A: Anywhere from 15-20 reps of each movement for 1-2 sets is plenty.
You can perform this exercise at the gym or at home…really anywhere! To perform, stand a few feet away from a support object and gently lower down into a deep squat while holding on for support. The purpose of holding on to the support is to allow for increased relaxation of the pelvic floor at the bottom of the squat so that you do not have to maintain a contraction of the muscles. Your feet should be wider than hip width to achieve greater opening of the top of the pelvis which allows baby to descend and engage in the pelvis.
Perform this exercise while seated on a support object with your knees and hips wide. Place your elbows on the inside of your knees and with an exhale gently press both knees outward. You should feel a gentle stretch in your inner thighs. Make sure to relax the pelvic floor musculature throughout the exercise.
This exercise is an extension of the Deep Squat Push Out, but is performed unilaterally to allow for a greater stretch on either side. You may notice one side feels tighter than the other side, so feel free to focus on one side more than the other.
Asymmetrical positions such as lunges help to open up either side of the pelvis. We have a tendency to develop tension on one side of the body more than the other which is why performing movement unilaterally is so important. If one side of the pelvic floor or hip musculature is tighter than the other then it may be difficult for baby to descend into that side of the pelvis. Perform this exercise using a support object and a pad underneath the knee that is on the ground. Gently rock your body forward focusing on relaxing the pelvic floor and hip musculature with each breath.
While leaning forward onto a tall support object (kitchen counter, dresser, back of sofa, etc.) gently shift your weight from one leg to the other while simultaneously straightening and bending your knees as you shift your weight. Once again this asymmetrical movement helps to open both sides of the pelvic floor and hip musculature.
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